Andrew Zimmern's Easy, Mess-Free Trick For Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken has an impressive history. It's also one that carries a fair amount of debate. According to Four Way Memphis, fried chicken came out of West Africa where there was a tradition of frying foods, particularly chicken. This was supposedly brought to the United States with slaves, which is part of the reason that fried chicken is generally tied to the land of Dixie. Conversely, BBC Travel says that it might be Scottish settlers who introduced the dish to the new world when they settled in the south.

Wherever fried chicken originated, it's here to stay. Nearly every culture has some variation of poultry that is breaded and cooked in oil or fat. Japan has a whole fried chicken festival and in Vienna, there's Wiener Backhendl, which Taste Atlas explains is a traditional dish that is now served with some mixture of greens. These are just a few of the mysteries of fried chicken.

Whether you bread it light or heavy, prefer it spicy or extra crispy, there are innumerable ways to make fried chicken. However, the process is almost always messy, since you're rolling your bird in flour. If you're sick of the mess, Andrew Zimmern has an answer for you.

A simple shopping bag can make dredging your chicken a clean, trouble-free experience

Making fried chicken typically requires dredging it. Better Homes & Gardens (BHG) clarifies that the dredging process involves dipping food into a dry mixture to provide it with a nice coating. One of the most common types of dredging mixture is flour with salt and seasoning.

BHG says that the way to dredge something is to spread the dredging material into a shallow dish. When the food is rolled around, it kicks the dredging mixture every which way, and then you have to force your kids to clean it up. But, Andrew Zimmern, maestro of bizarre foods, says there's an easier way.

Rather than putting your dredge mix into a shallow bowl, Zimmern told TikTok how he does the dredge dance with a minimum of cleanup. "There is no better vessel for dredging large pieces and large volumes of chicken than a shopping bag," says Zimmern as he dumps flour into a brown paper shopping bag. Zimmern then seasons it "heavily" with salt and pepper, and gives it a shake to mix it. He then plops the chicken straight into the bag. He says the final step is shaking the bag. "Do not violently shake it," he advises, explaining "Turn it upside down and hold it and shake it." Voilà, dredged chicken a la bag.

Poaching can also reduce your messy fried chicken woes

While Zimmern's strategy for dredging chicken can drastically reduce the amount of flour and seasoning that coats your countertop, there are many other tactics you can employ to improve your fried foods. One of the most highly suggested is to poach your fried chicken in order to reduce the mess from the hot oil, which is an even worse mess than dredging.

Usually, when the word "poaching" comes up, it refers to eggs. However, the same basic cooking method that works for eggs can also be applied to eggs that have grown all the way up to chickens. Even better, learning to poach a chicken normally isn't nearly as hard as poaching the perfect egg.

My Recipes explains the entire poaching process, which involves marinating chicken with seasonings and milk or buttermilk, and letting it sit for a few hours or overnight. All you need to do then is drop the marinated chicken with all its juices into a high-sided pan. You use a combination of boiling and simmering to actually do the cooking. After the chicken is cooked and cooled you can go through the dredging and frying process.

The poaching step allows you to fry the chicken for way less time, and requires less oil since you're only heating the outside to crisp it. The extra step may take a bit more time, but it will even out as there will be less mess to clean after frying.